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Conservatives Float to Victory on School Choice in Texas Runoffs

State of the Union: Governor Greg Abbott now has the votes to pass the statewide school choice policy.
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In Tuesday’s primary runoff elections in Texas, conservative challengers managed to win several crucial races, which, coupled with the results of the March primary, should give Governor Greg Abbott the ability to move the state in a conservative direction on school choice.

In recent years, Texan Republican politics have been dominated by a school-choice dispute between the establishment GOP State Speaker Dade Phelan and the more hardline State Attorney General Ken Paxton, who survived a Phelan-backed impeachment last September. Despite attempts by Abbott to create a school voucher system, including the calling of a special session of the legislature to address the issue, conservatives have failed to pass any bills on the matter. According to POLITICO, the most recent school vouchers proposal “would have given around 40,000 students access to about $10,500 in vouchers for private schooling or $1,000 toward homeschooling.” Ahead of the elections, Abbott had announced that he would campaign against the 21 Republicans in the Texas House who had opposed school choice. Paxton and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick had already endorsed many challengers to incumbent state representatives.


The endorsements appear to have paid off. The Paxton and Abbott pick for the 58th District, Helen Kerwin, defeated State Rep. DeWayne Burns, who had opposed school choice. In the 61st State House District, Keresa Richardson defeated the incumbent Frederick Frazier. At the same time, State Representative John Kuempel, another opponent of school choice, lost to the Abbott-backed Alan Schoolcraft. Conservatives failed, however, to defeat Phelan in his own district, who narrowly defeated David Covey, a Paxton pick. 

The conservative challengers were successful in six out of the total eight runoffs, joining the eight successful challengers who won their March primaries outright. Following this ballot-box success, Abbott has stated that he will now have the votes to pass the school choice policy.